When the stage is at its biggest, a coach always looks for his or her star players to step up. Under the lights at Fenway Park, Boston College's top players answered the call, and then some.
Jerry York's star-studded line of Johnny Gaudreau, Kevin Hayes, and Bill Arnold carried the Eagles' offense, and Boston College eked out a 4-3, Hockey East win over Notre Dame.
"It was a big stage here, and we played a real quality opponent in the Irish, so there's a lot of good things to think about as I try to warm up from the stands here," said a rosy-cheeked York, fresh off the frigid Fenway rink.
York's top line was formed toward the end of an upset loss the Eagles suffered at home against Holy Cross. The next game, York kept the trio together against New Hampshire, and got favorable results. In the Fenway game against Notre Dame, the line combined for three goals and four assists, pacing the Eagles offense and then some, as it has in the 5-0 stretch since it was conceived.
Gaudreau tallied twice, extending his points streak to 14-consecutive games, a stretch during which he's registered a line of 14-13=27. The junior forward said he can't recall going through a stretch of hockey like this ever.
"I guess not," he said. "Coach put me, Bill, and Kevin together, and I think that was pretty exciting for all three of us. We never got a chance to play with each other, and that kind of sparked all three of us.
"Ever since coach put us together, we've been doing really well together. We've been getting a lot of scoring chance; not just our line, but throughout the entire team. It's a lot of fun."
Gaudreau got his first of the game and BC's second of the night nearly nine minutes into the opening period. Arnold found Gaudreau at the top of crease with a no-look pass, and the nation's second-leading scorer was able to slide it past Steven Summerhays.
"It was simple communication; Johnny let me know where he was," Arnold said. "I heard him. He's a little guy, but he's got a big voice.
"When he wants the puck, you make sure you get it to him, and then he stick handles five times in the blink of an eye and puts it in the back of the net."
It looked like Boston College might run away with the contest from there, but Mario Lucia was able to cut the Irish's deficit in half with a tally of his own.
Another big momentum shift would soon follow, as Michael Sit was assessed a five minute major boarding penalty and a game misconduct as the period expired, giving Notre Dame an extended power play to start the second.
The Irish were able to tie the score only 23 seconds into that man advantage, thanks to a goal from T.J. Tynan, the same player who Sit hit from behind. But with over four minutes of power play time still remaining, Notre Dame couldn't muster a second goal to take the lead.
"Scoring quickly like we did at the beginning of the second was huge," Tynan said. "It would have been nice to get one more on the five minute major, but we got a lot of momentum off of that."
The teams went into the third period tied at two, and then traded tallies, setting the stage for Gaudreau to net the game-winner.
"Johnny got a really nice goal to win the game for us," York said. "I feel really good about the way our team played."
A Kevin Hayes blocked shot led to a chance in transition for the Eagles. With Gaudreau in alone and only Summerhays to beat, he calmly moved the puck to his backhand before sliding it between the goalie's legs.
A few breakdown from Notre Dame was all it took for Boston College to generate all of its offense, and despite overcoming an early 2-0 hole, and even tying the game at three in the third, the Irish never led, and couldn't find the ultimate answer.
"The biggest thing is they capitalize on your mistakes, and we made some mistakes," said Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson. "Blocked shots, or we gave up the shorthanded goal; to me that hurt us the most."
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